As you noticed, October is a busy month for "Alter Bridge", during which 4 out of their 6 albums (including the last one) were released...
Here is another one of them "ABIII, " released on October 8, 2010.
Let's start by drawing a clear conclusion based on our discussion of "Blackbird." It's evident that if this band had a professional or consistent marketing department (the downside of frequently changing record labels), their commercial success would likely be significantly higher. However, Alter Bridge typically avoids releasing music videos, partnering with major music labels, or using commercial promotion channels. Instead, they rely on hard work and grassroots efforts, primarily through live performances in clubs, stadiums, and festivals. While fans appreciate their authenticity and resistance to commercialism, there's a sense of missed opportunities due to the band's choices. Many people remain unaware of the remarkable entity known as "Alter Bridge," and that's something we aim to address here.
After the triumph of "Blackbird," expectations for this talented quartet were sky-high, and they not only met those expectations but also exceeded them.
This album stands as one of the band's finest, if not the absolute pinnacle (with the only real contender being "Blackbird"). To give you a sense of its impact, Rick Florino from the "Artistdirect" website awarded the album a perfect score of 5 out of 5 and hailed it as one of the finest rock albums of 2010, labeling it a "masterpiece" that underscores the band's exceptional talent.
Compared to the band's prior work, this album stands out as remarkably advanced and dynamic. The song structures are more versatile, intricate, and diverse than anything the band had previously attempted. These attributes were so prominent that some even categorized this album as falling within the Progressive Metal genre.
However, what truly sets this album apart from its predecessors is not just its musical composition but, more importantly, its lyrical content. It's often referred to as a "Loose Concept Album," essentially a mini-concept album with a central theme, rather than a continuous motif that threads through the album from start to finish. The central theme revolves around a character grappling with their place in a world marked by emptiness and skepticism. This character reevaluates their emotions and thoughts, which were once their only certainties, all conveyed through Myles Kennedy's emotive vocals.
In this album, Alter Bridge delves into darker themes compared to their two previous releases. This shift is immediately apparent in the opening track, "Slip To The Void," where Myles Kennedy's haunting whispers and the chilling atmosphere send shivers down your spine. This song not only serves as the album's introduction but is also a staple in the band's live performances.
As the song unfolds, Mark Tremonti's explosive riffs and Myles Kennedy's electrifying vocals take center stage, setting the tone for the heavy, raw, and enthralling journey that lies ahead in this album. It's a complete showcase of what's to come.
And when it comes to the lyrics, the album starts with a gentle hint of something profound about to transpire. The character in the song begins to question the decisions they've made and the consequences these choices may hold for their future.
The album's second track, "Isolation," not only marked the album's first single but remains the band's most successful single to date, reigning atop the mainstream rock chart for an impressive 7 weeks. "Isolation" is an explosive blend of powerful riffs and captivating melodies that flow in an almost intoxicating manner between the verses and the chorus. It's a total addiction! However, the lyrics here delve into a complex narrative. The character portrayed is emotionally detached and isolated, unable to break through the walls they've built due to fear and insecurity. This emotional barricade leads to the loss of their happiness and joy.
The track "Ghost of Days Gone By" provides a somewhat lighter tone on the album, except for its heavier and darker transition section. Lyrically, it deviates from the album's central theme and instead expresses a longing for the past, acknowledging the inexorable passage of time.
Now, "All Hope Is Gone" opens with a beautiful, uplifting melody that gradually builds, featuring Myles Kennedy's exceptional vocals. The harmonious chorus sung by Myles and Mark is incredibly powerful, conveying a sense of hope slipping away in their voices. It's a desperate cry to hold on, even when it feels like "All hope is gone." As for that part you mentioned about the song's breaking section, all I can say is, turn the volume to the maximum and let your eardrums revel in the sheer intensity!
With "Still Remains," Alter Bridge delves into the language of metal. The opening riff and the powerful pauses at the end of each riff line will make you headbang with all your might. The riff in the transition section starting around the 2:40 mark is straight-up metal and an absolute joy. In this song, the character takes on a role resembling that of a father figure, dealing with a child who yearns to break free and live life on their terms, despite the support and guidance offered. Eventually, the child returns to the place where their true freedom lies.
As for "Wonderful Life," it's an emotional ballad that envelops you, providing a warm embrace while Myles Kennedy's vocals invite you to sing along incessantly and perhaps shed a tear due to his mesmerizing voice. The lyrics here are so moving that words can't do them justice; it's best to simply surrender to the emotion they convey.
As we enter the second half of the album with "I Know It Hurts," it's safe to say that there hasn't been a weak moment so far. The tempo is raised a bit, and the song's central theme deals with overcoming obstacles. Mark Tremonti's solo towards the end of the song is nothing short of breathtaking, a testament to his exceptional talent. This song feels like a direct continuation of the preceding one, aiming to bolster the character and instill hope.
Slowing down a bit with "Show Me a Sign," we find that it's Mark Tremonti's favorite from the album. This track, perhaps the darkest and saddest on the album, at times echoes Tremonti's work with his band "Creed" on the album "Human Clay."
"Fallout" was penned during a sound check for one of the band's performances promoting the album "Blackbird." It delves into the ongoing struggles of the album's main character. Interestingly, Myles Kennedy's mother band, "The Mayfield Four," also has an album bearing the same name.
"Coeur d'Alene" is a reference to a lake where Myles and his father used to spend time, symbolizing a sense of "home" – that familiar and safe place to turn to when one doesn't want to feel alone. This song brings joy and companionship.
Approaching the end of the album with the song "Life Must Go On," the intro feels like a blend of "My Sacrifice" by Tremonti's previous band and "Down To My Last" from Alter Bridge's debut album, "One Day Remains." The rhythm is relatively relaxed, reminiscent of "Breathe Again." The song continually builds, increasing its emotional intensity, and Mark Tremonti's melodic solo played over Myles Kennedy's vocals, intensifies the emotion.
Finally, the closing song, "Words Darker Than Their Wings," takes us to the first vocal duet between Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy. It's beautiful and sweet, portraying a dialogue of hope, much like the one Myles had with his best friend, which served as the inspiration for the song's lyrics. The 12-string guitar adds a beautiful touch to the track, and Myles' soaring vocal at the end resonates like a heavenly chorus, as if Jeff Buckley of "Grace" applauds this remarkable band from the gates of heaven, acknowledging that Alter Bridge is indeed doing the right thing, and doing it exceedingly well. It's a fitting end to this masterful album, a testament to their unwavering commitment.